WALKERSVILLE — Holding the lead in the meet’s final event, Linganore’s Rachel McCoy no longer needed to press so hard.
With a win in the 400-yard freestyle relay, the Lancers would easily clinch the first Frederick County meet girls team title in program history.
But McCoy’s competitive drive wasn’t about to slow down as she sway the anchor leg.
“We were going for the record,” she said. “We were going to prove ourselves and to prove that we are Linganore High School and we’re here to stay in the swimming world.”
That proof will appear on the county record board.
The Lancers won the 400 free relay with a record-setting time of 3 minutes, 42.46 seconds, sealing their historic team crown and providing a stirring end to the Frederick County Public Schools Swimming and Diving Championships at Walkersville High School.
Linganore’s first girls team title was just one of the big stories to unfold on Saturday. Oakdale’s boys team captured its sixth straight team title, more than any county boys team, and seven meet records were set.
Linganore girls set three of those marks. Aside from the 400 free relay, which included Taylor Koch, Megan Brobst and Lyra Garrett, McCoy won the 100 butterfly with a record-setting time of 57.25, and the 200 medley relay team of Garrett, Brobst, McCoy and Koch set a record by winning with a 1:51.88.
None of Linganore’s marks were as sweet as the final one.
“I had no clue until Lyra told us. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, we broke the record and won,’” Koch said. “It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t ask for a better meet, especially for my senior year, my last county meet.”
While Koch is a returnee for the Lancers, she was joined this year by young newcomers like McCoy (sophomore), Brobst (sophomore) and Garrett (freshman), strong club swimmers who helped transform the Lancers from a team that won just two meets last year to a county power.
“It feels awesome because the girls had never won,” said Brobst, who gestured toward a banner on the wall showing the one team title won by her school. “The boys won in 1997, which was over 20 years ago.”
When first-year coach Joe Hawkins took over Linganore’s program, one objective was clear.
“Last year, the team was smaller. And the task was given to me to recruit and to grow the team,” he said. “I did meetings before the season, I met everyone in the school who had ever swam and talked about how swimming for the high school would be a great idea.”
The swimmers who came out did everything he asked of them, and then some.
The Lancers’ only regular season losses came to Oakdale and Tuscarora, two teams they would have to contend with again on Saturday. The Lancers finished with 122 points, while the Titans had 104 and the Bears had 101.
“Coming into this meet, we were pretty confident, and we really let that show in the pool,” McCoy said.
Right down to the final event. When Hawkins brought up the idea of setting a record in the 400 relay, he inspired his foursome.
“Rachel was all hyped because she’s like the prime hypemaster,” Garrett said. “When she’s hyped, everybody gets hyped.”
Garrett won the 200 IM, McCoy took the 200 free, and the Lancers got a win from Jessica Buntman in Thursday’s diving meet.
At this point of the season, wins and personal bests are nothing new.
“They’ve done that all year long at Linganore High,” Hawkins said. “I think there’s only two records on the board that weren’t broken this year.”
Oakdale won the boys team title over Thomas Johnson 126-104, continuing its unprecedented run of crowns.
As in previous years, the Bears had to cope with the loss of standouts. They also had a new head coach when Chris Lamont, who swam for the Bears when they started their streak of county titles in 2014, took over for Melissa Daily, who is now an assistant along with Brigid Kavanaugh and Haley Fournier.
But the Bears keep finding ways to win.
“No matter how much we lose from the last year, it always seems like our kids are stepping up filling their shoes,” Lamont said. “And we’re very thankful for them.”
One of those swimmers was sophomore Gavin Currie, who won the 200 free and 500 free titles for the Bears’ only first-place finishes on Saturday. Friends convinced him to come out for the team.
“It’s fun to be a part of something bigger than just yourself, it’s nice to be a part of the team,” he said. “Everybody’s really energetic and friendly, so it’s a lot of fun.”
In both of Currie’s wins, the Bears’ Jayce Baek placed second.
“We’ve been racing for, what, five years now? And he’s always edged me out,” Baek said.
But those one-two finishes provided Oakdale with valuable points. Lamont called Baek an unsung hero.
The coach also praised the leadership provided by senior captain Andrew White, who has been on four straight county champion Oakdale teams. White relished his last county hurrah on Saturday and pointed out contributions of others.
“Swimmers like my friend, Joey Lipari, who was an exhibition swimmer two years ago his sophomore year,” White said. “He started club swimming, he started working harder so he could come out and be what he was today, which was two fifth places and key points that we needed.”
The Bears also got 22 points from their divers, who took the top three spots on Thursday. Natahan Murphy won, Brian Tu was second, and Kevin Tu was third.
Tuscarora’s Sophia Routzahn enjoyed a huge day. She shattered the 100 breaststroke record with a 1:04.5, topping the mark of 1:07.82 set by Thomas Johnson’s Eliza Manning. Routzahn also broke the 19-year-old 100 free record with a 53.92, and Middletown’s Kathryn Pressly also broke the previous record with a 54.37 to place second.
Oakdale’s Hayley Taylor broke the 100 backstroke mark with a 57.95. She credited White as a mentor and was thankful she got serious about swimming.
“I did a 57 for the first time in a meet about a month ago, and I can’t believe I did a 57 tonight,” she said. “The last, I don’t know, five yards, I was dying. My legs were hurting so bad.”
Thomas Johnson’s Ali Hegazi, Jay Parente, Stephen Lombardi and Robert Xu set a record in the 200 free relay with a 1:32.06.
The TJ boys also got wins from Xu in the 100 butterfly and Hegazi in the 100 free.
Walkersville’s boys got wins from Michael Flegel in the 50 free and the 200 medley relay team of Noah Wilson, Joseph Pieklo, Kameron Conley and Flegel.
Brunswick’s Michael Dressler won the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke.
TJ’s Meghan Pattison won the girls 50 free, and Pattison joined with Charlotte Pilch, Olivia Roark and Rebecca Manley to win the 200 free relay.
Frederick’s Rachael Bostian won the girls 500 free, and Urbana’s Ben Landon won the boys 100 back.